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“Tell Me Why”

Listen to “Tell Me Why”

JOHN 1980: “‘Tell Me Why…’ they needed another upbeat song and I just knocked it off. It was like a black, New York girl-group song.”

PAUL circa-1994: “I think alot of these songs like ‘Tell Me Why’ were based in real life experiences… but it never occured to us until later to put that slant on it all.”

Info about “Tell Me Why”

“Tell Me Why” is a song from the album A Hard Day’s Night. In North America, it was released on both the American version of A Hard Day’s Night and the album Something New. Credited to Lennon–McCartney, it was written by John Lennon in either Paris or New York City, and recorded in eight takes on 27 February 1964.

The song is in the key of D major. John, Paul, and George sing a three-part harmony. In the chorus, John’s lead vocal part sits higher than George’s, and more unusual in this case, Paul’s harmonies.

“Tell Me Why” was performed in the Beatles’ debut feature film, A Hard Day’s Night. The song was part of the “studio performance” sequence, which was filmed at the Scala Theatre, London, on 31 March 1964. That marks the only time the song was ever performed in front of a live audience, which consisted of 350 paid actors, one of whom was a thirteen-year old Phil Collins. The song was mimed by the Beatles and the words were lip-synced on stage.

Meaning of “Tell Me Why”

The lyrics of “Tell Me Why” express a sense of confusion and frustration in a romantic relationship. The narrator is seeking an explanation for the behavior or actions of their partner. They want to understand why things are not going as expected and are looking for honesty and clarity.

Lines like “Is there anything I can do?,” “Tell me what I did wrong,” and “If I’m mad for you, I’ll always be” indicate a longing for resolution and a desire to make the relationship work.

“Tell Me Why” is a song that captures the emotional complexity and challenges that can arise in romantic relationships. It reflects a universal sentiment of wanting to understand and communicate with a loved one in order to make the relationship stronger.


  • John Lennon – lead vocal, rhythm guitar (Lennon’s vocal is double-tracked in the stereo version, but single-tracked in the mono mix).
  • Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass
  • George Harrison – harmony vocal, lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums
  • George Martin – piano

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